How to Take Long Exposure on iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide

Capturing stunning long exposure photos with your iPhone is simpler than you might think. Long exposure photography involves leaving the camera’s shutter open for an extended period, allowing more light to hit the sensor, which creates a sense of motion or blurs moving subjects. All you need is your iPhone, a steady surface or tripod, and a little bit of know-how. After reading this brief overview, you’ll be ready to dive into the world of long exposure photography using your iPhone.

Step by Step Tutorial: Taking Long Exposure on iPhone

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand what we’re aiming for. Long exposure on an iPhone means we’re going to use the camera’s settings to create a photo where anything that’s moving becomes a blur, while everything else stays sharp. It’s a cool effect for things like waterfalls, traffic, or even stars at night.

Step 1: Choose a Stable Surface or Tripod

The first step is to make sure your iPhone is steady. You can’t hold it in your hands because even the slightest movement will blur the entire photo.

Finding a flat, stable surface or using a tripod is crucial for long exposure shots. Any movement can ruin the effect, so make sure your iPhone is as still as possible. There are plenty of affordable tripods that are compatible with iPhones, or you can get creative and prop your phone against something.

Step 2: Set up Your Shot

Once your iPhone is stable, frame your shot. Think about what you want to be blurred (like moving cars or water) and what should stay sharp (like the landscape or buildings).

Taking the time to frame your shot will make a big difference in the final result. Look for interesting compositions that will be enhanced by the blurring effect of the long exposure.

Step 3: Use the iPhone Camera App or a Third-Party App

You can use the built-in Camera app on your iPhone for long exposures by using the Live Photo feature, or you can download a third-party app that gives you more control over the exposure settings.

While the Camera app’s Live Photo feature is convenient, a third-party app will often give you more options and control over your long exposure. Apps like Slow Shutter Cam or Manual will let you adjust settings like ISO and shutter speed for better results.

Step 4: Adjust Exposure Settings

If you’re using a third-party app, now’s the time to adjust your exposure settings. You’ll want a low ISO and a slow shutter speed. The exact settings will depend on how much light is in the scene and how fast things are moving.

Experiment with different settings to find what works best for your particular scene. Remember, the longer the shutter is open, the more motion blur you’ll get.

Step 5: Take the Photo and Edit if Needed

Press the shutter button and wait. The longer the exposure, the more pronounced the effect. After the photo is taken, you can use editing tools to touch up the final image if necessary.

Sometimes the photo might come out too bright or too dark, or you might want to enhance the colors. The editing tools in your iPhone’s Photos app can help you make these adjustments.

After you complete these steps, you’ll have a captivating long exposure photo taken with your iPhone. The moving elements in your shot should be beautifully blurred, while the rest of your image remains sharp and clear.

Tips for Taking Long Exposure on iPhone

  • Use a remote shutter or the timer function on your iPhone to avoid shaking the camera when you press the shutter button.
  • If you’re shooting in daylight, consider using an ND filter to reduce the amount of light that enters the camera, allowing for longer exposure times without overexposing the photo.
  • Always focus on a stationary object before starting your long exposure to ensure the static parts of your image are sharp.
  • Experiment with different exposure times to find the right balance for your scene.
  • Be patient and take multiple shots. Long exposure photography often requires trial and error to get the perfect shot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take long exposure photos during the day?

Yes, you can take long exposure photos during the day, but you might need an ND filter to prevent overexposure due to the bright conditions.

Do I need a third-party app to take long exposure shots on my iPhone?

While it’s not strictly necessary, a third-party app can provide more control over the exposure settings, which can lead to better results.

Can I use the Live Photo feature for long exposure?

Yes, the Live Photo feature has a hidden long exposure effect that you can apply after taking the photo.

How long should my exposure be?

The length of your exposure will depend on the effect you’re going for. A few seconds can blur moving water nicely, while longer exposures can turn busy streets into rivers of light.

What do I do if my long exposure photo is too bright or too dark?

You can adjust the brightness of your photo using the editing tools in the iPhone’s Photos app.


  1. Choose a stable surface or tripod for your iPhone.
  2. Frame your shot, focusing on the parts you want to keep sharp.
  3. Use the iPhone Camera app or a third-party app for more control.
  4. Adjust your exposure settings, considering the light and movement in your scene.
  5. Take the photo and edit it if necessary.


Long exposure photography with your iPhone might seem intimidating at first, but it’s really quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. Just remember to keep your iPhone steady, experiment with different settings, and be patient. With some practice, you’ll be capturing those dreamy, motion-blurred photos that can make your shots stand out. So why not give it a try? Grab your iPhone, head out, and start experimenting with long exposure photography today!